Burning Bush and the early origins of Riot Grrrl

Riot Genealogies and Manifesto Origin Stories

In 1988, Burning Bush, the punk-rock power trio from Phoenix, AZ, released "Tales from the Bush."

Denise Tanguay (bass and vocal), Thomascyne Ryther (vocals and guitar), and Andrey Creed (drums) were Riot Grrrl, rock-n-roll feminists of the Valley of the Sun in the late 1980s. According to Tanguay in a recent AZ Central article, "It was actually The Arizona Republic who coined that term for us when they interviewed us—I believe it was in 1992—for an article called 'Rockhard Feminism,' the bass-playing singer recalls. 'And at the time, we weren't even quite aware of the movement.'"

As Lindsay Wrights writes in "Do-it-Yourself Girl Power," The Riot Grrrl subculture emerged from the punk rock scene during the third-wave feminist movement in the early 1990s, uniting women and girls against capitalist and patriarchal cultural ideologies. Creative forms of protest, including music, fanzines, and other do-it-yourself expressions, have allowed Riot Grrrls to counter the dominant ideological narrative in the United States. Despite the Riot Grrrl movement's commodification by mainstream culture, it has evolved and expanded to continue to influence the world today."

In a Phoenix New Times article from 2015, when the band first played shows together again, Ryther recalls, "I don't think Burning Bush ever was particularly radical so much as community-oriented. While I admit to some lyrical finger pointing and kettle black calling, it was more fun-poking, as in everyone is fair game. As a group, we weren't the ones to break the law or support any sort of violent or even rude behavior to 'get our way.' Instead I'd say the mainstream has actually caught up with us. Indeed, now vegetarians and girl musicians abound."

Though no longer living in Phoenix, Burning Bush has planned a short reunion tour in 2022 despite living as far apart as Oregon, New York, and California. From an Arizona Central article that is unfortunately behind a paywall (but offers three free articles): "'One of the reasons I got inspired to put this show together was the Bikini Kill reunion tour,' Tanguay says, noting that Burning Bush and Bikini Kill were once in the same issue of the legendary punk fanzine Maximum Rocknroll (February 1992)."

Check out this vintage full concert live video from 1991 at Bohemia After Dark in Mesa, AZ. Or this video from a 1988 outdoor storefront show at Stinkweeds Records in Phoenix, AZ.

The Riot Grrrl Manifesto was written in 1991 by Bikini Kill and its lead singer Kathleen Hanna and published in the BIKINI KILL ZINE 2. A few of the 13 reasons given for the "why" of the manifesto:

"BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways.

BECAUSE we recognize fantasies of Instant Macho Gun Revolution as impractical lies meant to keep us simply dreaming instead of becoming our dreams AND THUS seek to create revolution in our own lives every single day by envisioning and creating alternatives to the bullshit christian capitalist way of doing things.

BECAUSE we don't wanna assimilate to someone else's (boy) standards of what is or isn't.

BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-hierarchical ways of being AND making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.

BECAUSE doing/reading/seeing/hearing cool things that validate and challenge us can help us gain the strength and sense of community that we need in order to figure out how bullshit like racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism figures in our own lives.

BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real."

Community-oriented is radical. These are inspirations and blueprints.